By & To: Business English prepositions that cause mistakes

If you’re learning business English prepositions can be VERY important.
This lesson is about the way we use the prepositions by and to to describe trends, numbers and figures.
There are situations where you could translate both by and to with a single preposition in many languages, but in English, their meanings are different.
Watch this video to fix a common mistake.

We have lots more videos about tricky English prepositions. Click the links below to see some.
For and to
By and until
For and since
For and during
In time and On time

By and To: Business English Prepositions

Prepositions. They’re often tricky in English. In this video we’re going to fix a common mistake with ‘by’ and ‘to’. And you’ll also learn some financial terms.
Let’s start with the prepositions.

Are you cold Rachel?
Yes.
Jay, check the thermostat.
I’m cold too.
It’s down to 68 degrees.
No wonder we’re all cold.

So the temperature has fallen and now it’s 68 degrees. We use ‘to’ to describe the level it’s reached. OK, let’s move on to ‘by’.

So that’s five, fifteen, twenty eight. Well done.
Ha! Ha! I’m going to beat you today.
I doubt it. You’re still down by sixty eight points.
Show me that

We use ‘by’ to talk about the difference between two levels. 68 points is the gap between our scores. Let’s look at two more examples.

The rate of inflation has increased to 4%
The rate of inflation has increased by 4%

Both these sentences are correct, but they mean different things. ‘Increased to’ means inflation has reached 4%. ‘Increased by’ means 4% is the size of the rise – the size of the difference.
In some languages, you’d use the same preposition here and people would understand what you mean from context. But not in English. We use two different prepositions with different meanings.

It’s good to be here with folks who are becoming old friends.
Well thank you Joe. Now I understand you want to be in this video
Yes.
OK, but you must stick to the examples.
You can’t talk too long, Joe.
OK. Do you understand?
Yes.
Off you go then.
When the president and I took office in January of 2009 this nation was in the midst of the greatest economic crisis since the great depression. Our economy had plummeted…
No, no Joe. You’re just going to stick to the examples.’To – by’. Remember?
Yes.
OK. Again.
We’ve gone from losing 9 million jobs during the financial crisis, to creating 10 million jobs. We’ve reduced unemployment from 10% in October of 2009 to 6.1% today.
OK. Good examples, Joe.
You could smile a bit, Joe
Now let’s do ‘by’. Ready?
Yes.
Since the year 2000 gross domestic product, our GDP, has risen by 25%. And productivity in America is up by 30%.
That’s great!
Thanks.
Yes, that’s all we need, Joe. We’ll say goodbye now.
Take care.
Thanks for listening. And God bless you all.
He’s so serious!
He never smiles. Good examples though.

Can you remember what Joe said? GDP is the value of all goods and services produced in a country in a year. And productivity is the rate at which goods are produced. When productivity goes up it take less time and money to make things.
So what preposition did Joe use here? By. He was talking about the difference between the two numbers.
Next one. Unemployment is the number of people who can’t get a job. The missing preposition? To. Notice Joe said ‘from’. From was the starting point and to was the level they reached.
OK, one final example.

Here are your pay checks.
Oh thank you very much. Thanks. Oh great. I’m getting a salary increase this month.
Me too.
It’s great to be appreciated. Yeah.
They know we’re doing a good job. Great. Mine’s gone up by 3%. How about about yours?
Mine’s gone up as well.
By how much?
By 6%. They must be very pleased with my work.

We have lots more videos about tricky English prepositions. Click the links below to see some.

For and to
By and until
For and since
For and during
In time and On time

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